Two standout alumni, Purnima Malik “PM” (CSC 22-1) from India and Oliver Nobetau “Ollie” (CSC 22-2) from Papua New Guinea, served as Alumni Seminar Leaders for the Comprehensive Security Cooperation (CSC) 23-1.

According to course manager Sam Mullins, his team implemented the Alumni Seminar Program after seeing the benefits of a similar program at the George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies in Germany.

Said Mullins, “[The Alumni Seminar Leader program] is an awesome opportunity that I think is beneficial to the Fellows who get to come back here and contribute to the professional development of their peers.”

Prior to the start of the course, PM and Ollie spent a week in seminar leader training learning how to facilitate discussions among the fellows. When the fellows arrived, PM and Ollie took time to adjust to their new roles as leaders. They built relationships with the Fellows in their seminars and in the discussions modeled the Center’s core values for mutual respect, transparency and inclusion.

“It takes a bit of getting used to,” said Ollie. “Especially reminding yourself that you are not a fellow anymore, but you are actually responsible for the fellows. I remember my first day here, running around and rounding up fellows to make sure no one got lost.”

Said PM, “The fundamental thing to understand is that it is no longer about PM or India. It’s about all the fellows.”

As seminar leaders, PM and Ollie each partnered with a DKI APCSS professor to lead a seminar made up of Fellows from across the Indo-Pacific region. PM and Ollie participated in all of the course activities and faculty planning discussions, gaining a behind-the-scenes view of the level of detail and planning it takes to execute the course. After completing the program, the alums came away with a greater commitment to fostering collaboration in their home countries.

Alumni Seminar Leaders have been included in the past two iterations of CSC. Reviews from the faculty and fellows show that the alum provide invaluable leadership and insights from the region. CSC’s course management team will look to include more Alumni Seminar Leaders in future courses. Candidates who qualify to be an Alumni Seminar Leader will have stellar recommendations from the Center’s faculty. While not a requirement, previous experience in teaching and expertise in topics relevant to a course are desirable. The next iteration of CSC will take place from 24 May – 28 June.